Monday 22nd July 2019,
Inopian

Bristol Cars Ltd. (1946 – present)

Bristol Aeroplane Company began building aircraft before WW I. Their most important contribution was the Bristol Fighter, one of the best fighter-planes of the war. After the war, Bristol continued producing first-class aircraft and was in the front-line again when WWII began in 1939. Bristol`s aircraft and engines made an outstanding contribution to the war effort.

In 1945 the company formed an association with AFN Ltd, owned by Archie Frazer-Nash. AFN had been a prolific sports-car maker before the war and had also been the sole concessionaire for BMW in Great Britain. George White, grandson of Bristol`s founder, sent one of his directors, H.J. Aldington, to BMW`s bombed-out factory in Munich. The archives do not make clear how he achieved it but he was able to `liberate` the plans for the 1938/39 BMW sports-saloons.

He also brought back another souvenir, BMW`s chief-engineer, Fritz Fiedler! He would assist with the designing and production of the first car, the Bristol 400. In 1946 Bristol Cars began the manufacture of high-class grand-touring cars. From 1946 until 1961 the Bristol 2 litre engine (the liberated BMW pattern) was developed constantly and was supplied to several sports-car makers including AC and Lotus.

From 1961 Chrysler engines were used. All of Bristol`s engines were heavily modified and always out-performed the factory-original engines. Thanks to their long history of aircraft production and precision engineering, Bristol Cars had a head-start on competing companies. The company quickly became a very popular supplier of expensive quality cars to an enthusiastic gentry.

In 1960 Bristol Aircraft Company joined with other plane-makers to form British Aircraft Corporation, which would become a monumental disaster of the magnitude of British Leyland. Armstrong-Siddeley also became a member of the British Aircraft Corporation group and almost immediately ceased their car production. George White was determined that the same thing would not happen to Bristol Cars and hived it off as a separate company, which remained under his ownership.

Anthony Crook, a well-known racing-driver and Bristol enthusiast, bought in as a partner. In 1973 the now `Sir George White` retired and Anthony Crook took over Sir George`s shares and became the sole owner.

Bristol Cars had a strange attitude to advertising… they didn`t do it. The nearest thing to an advertisement was the one and only showroom in Kensington High street, west London. In 1997 Toby Silverton took over Bristol Cars Ltd and production continued until the company went into administration in March 2011.

In April 2011 ownership of Bristol Cars Ltd passed to Kamkorp, an Anglo-Swiss holding company. Happily, production of this superb marque continues.

 

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About Bev Roberts

Speed, the smell of hot oil, the roar of a straight-through exhaust and the scream of an engine at max revolutions. They have all been a large part of my life for almost 50 years. It is time to share my experiences with you, dear reader. Do you want to know more? Read on through my `Full Bio` and many articles.

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I was born in Hereford UK in 1948 and brought up in Gloucester UK. I played Rugby football internationally as a schoolboy. At the age of 17, a new and wet driving license in my paw, I entered motor racing. I was supported and financed by my parents and so my journey began.

In 1965 I bought a 1293cc Mini-Cooper `S` and campaigned it for a season. Having quickly made some good friends in the racing fraternity, several interesting opportunities came my way. I joined a sports-car team and raced in the Le Mans 24 hours in 1968 and 1969 in a Lola T70. Mechanical failure defeated both efforts. During that period I owned and raced a `D type` Jaguar and an AC Cobra. In those days cars like that were available and not too expensive, now they reside in museums and private collections. I had a chain of interesting cars through my youth including Jaguars, Minis, Mustangs and Lotus-Cortinas.

As a young driver I had my share of accidents too. Often the car would only be worth scrap-metal value by the time I got it home! I worked for an Aston-Martin/Jaguar dealership for a while, which enhanced my experience and gave me the opportunity to sample some very exotic machines, Ferrari, Facel-Vega, Iso and Maserati to recall a few of them.

At the end of 1969 I moved to South Africa to work on my uncle`s farm but the S.A. government had other ideas and drafted me into the army. After five years had passed I was thanked and released from the service. While I was there I bought a beige Cadillac Eldorado, previously the property of Marilyn Monroe. While I was away on a patrol my girlfriend had it re-sprayed pink! I was unimpressed by both the joke and the bill for the work!

When I returned to UK in 1974 I left it behind. On my return I found that the once-mighty British motor industry was in decline and was headed for oblivion. Motor racing was now very expensive so I turned to commercial transport. Driving large trucks gave me freedom and a chance to see some of the world. I don`t remember ever making a career choice but for the next thirty years a truck was my home. For about ten years in that period I owned two trucks of my own.

I also owned a famous MGB-GT, known as `Lucky`. If you`d like to read `The Story of Lucky` there is an article in Inopian`s archive. I finally retired, due to ill-health, in 2008. Since I had varied knowledge and many experiences on our subject I decided to share the stories of the cars I enjoyed (and hated) with the new generation.

Enjoy Inopian… it is constructed and written for you.

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